Gin, Elderberries, Star Anise, Sugar
50cl * 42% ABV * Essex & Cornwall, UK
Forget your past dalliances with sambuca! This is nothing like what you remember from way back when. The UK's only sambuca distillers bring you something truly remarkable; a small batch sambuca that's smooth enough for sipping.
Invented in Italy about 150 years ago, Sambuca's name comes from the Latin name for the elderberry plant, sambucus - as the drink was traditionally made from elderberry wine. Fast forward to the last 50 years or so, and commercially available sambuca has suffered the same fate as many spirits. It’s now commonly made with a cheap neutral grain spirit, masked with too much anise and sugar, which ultimately prompts the violent reaction that so many of us associate with a shot of sambuca. So, Dr John of English Spirit decided to have a crack at making a sublime English version, in the traditional manner.
They start by distilling, from scratch, an elderberry eau de vie in a copper pot still. This is a smooth base spirit with exactly the right profile needed before moving onto the next step: co-distilling with star anise. With no need to mask a fiery base spirit, they add just the right amount of star anise into the still, which means extracting all the flavours wanted, without going so far as to leech out the undesirable bits like tannins and bitter oils.
Finished with a nod to traditional sambuca by adding a touch of English sugar, not so much to make it sticky and oversweet, but just enough to enhance the intrinsic flavours and bolster the luscious mouthfeel. The result is silky smooth, with lush, fragrant layers of mouth-watering aniseed and no harshness or burn. A world away from the fiery, sticky sambucas usually found on the back bar.
Served chilled and neat as an aperitif or digestif. We also like to serve in a tumbler, over ice, as the melting ice dilutes the drink and result in the lovely pearlescent haze. The perfect after dinner drink...no setting on fire please.
Winner of 'Gold Outstanding (98/100)' at IWSC 2020 and 'Highly Commended' at the Great British Food Awards 2020.
"This drink is a complete game changer! When you take a sip there’s a magical explosion in your mouth. It’s super smooth whilst managing to be ridiculously complex - it’s as if Willy Wonka invented it! I’ve never enjoyed drinking spirits neat but this is irresistible. It’s perfect for drinking around a table whilst talking all night, or for going out to party. When I was half way through the bottle I had to order two more because I never want it to run out! I can’t think of the last time I was so excited about an alcoholic drink and I’m thrilled by it." - Vicki S, August 2020